Gift Establishes Myrna Gordon Skurnick Theatre Lab Playwriting Program and Creative Writing MFA Fellows

Laurie Carney, Lou Tyrrell, Myrna Skurnick, Michael Horswell


Monday, Mar 01, 2021

Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters recently announced a significant gift from Myrna Gordon Skurnick to establish the “Myrna Gordon Skurnick Theatre Lab Playwriting Program and Creative Writing MFA Fellows.” Her generosity also creates a future endowment to fund this collaborative initiative in perpetuity. To honor this commitment, the University will name a dedicated space located just outside the theatre, called the “Myrna Gordon Skurnick Writing Nest at Theatre Lab,” so that writers of all ages and genres can collaborate on new works for the stage.

The gift broadens the impact of Theatre Lab by establishing a national playwriting program with visiting playwrights, commissioning new work and creating competitive Creative Writing MFA fellowships that will attract the most talented writers to FAU with unique academic experiences with Theatre Lab. Prominent playwrights will work closely with students, present community workshops and teach as guest instructors through flexible residencies. Their visits may also include master classes, creation of new work (commissioned for Theatre Lab), and delivery of public talks.

“I am thrilled to be able to support playwriting for students at FAU in such a unique way,” said Skurnick. “Growing up in London I was, from the age of four, taken by my parents to the movies and the theatre. When I turned 14, I was allowed to ride the bus by myself to the West End.  So from then on, my best girl friend and I went every Saturday to a matinee sitting up in the so-called "Gods" and, for a couple of shillings, saw every play running! I also love to write, including short stories, memoirs and vignettes, making my gift especially meaningful both to me and to the art world.”

This gift gives Theatre Lab distinction as the only playwriting program in the Southeastern United States connected to an institution of higher education. It also immerses Creative Writing MFA students within the playwriting program to offer additional opportunities for prominence, distinction, and national attention. Students gain experiences unavailable from other programs including presenting annual staged readings of their work, and learning directly from visiting playwrights. The resident professional theatre company, Theatre Lab at FAU, was established five years ago by Founding Creative Director and Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Arts Lou Tyrrell. 

“Myrna’s generous gift enables an exciting vision that expands our potential to lead, innovate and educate in the creative and performing arts,” said Michael Horswell, dean of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “It will fortify our foundation and transform the future for our students, faculty, programs and public audiences. The potential and possibilities are endless.”

For more information about the gift, contact Laurie Carney at lcarney@fau.edu.




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